In describing America in 1821, John Quincy Adams wrote “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.” This early exhortation to mind one’s own business as a country was more or less heeded by American politicians until the 20th century. In a post for the Ron Paul Institute, David McAdams reminds readers of Adams’s words, and of how ignoring them has hurt America in the past. He writes:
It seems like only yesterday, but it was in fact 19 years ago almost to the day. Nasty little Canadian neocon David Frum scribbled the infamous cover story for the National Review titled “Unpatriotic Conservatives.” It was a catchy title and its purpose was to read all non-“regime” conservatives out of the conservative movement.
If you were skeptical about the Iraq war, about bogus claims of Saddam’s ties to al-Qaeda and his mobile weapons labs that would lob nukes over to New York, you were not really conservative but rather an unpatriotic traitor.
Frum and his neocon buddies had a problem at the time: Conservative opposition to non-defensive wars went back decades – at least to Sen. Robert (“Mr. Conservative”) Taft, who foresaw the nightmare we are now facing in east Europe and eloquently argued against the US joining NATO at all back in 1949. Even in 2003, prominent conservative intellectuals and a broad grassroots of Americans were still steeped in the advice of John Quincy Adams that we must not go abroad seeking monsters to slay.
So in one corner you had actual conservatives, who understood how nations were destroyed by endless wars of aggression and conquest.
In the other corner you had the neocons, who had only recently shuffled over to the “conservative” side after spending decades lurking in the fetid bowels of Trotskyism.
Daniel McAdams is the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
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